“All of us had such a fine time wining and dining around the city that I have no recollection of any daytime hours, and even my recollections of nighttime are foggy.”
Suze Rotolo, A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Okay maybe that isn’t a completely accurate description of our New York trip, as we did get out and about during most days, and I do remember what we did (during the day at least). But my cousin Rory and his wife Michelle did make sure at least one full day was a write-off, as we drank and drank til the early hours on the Sunday night, but seeing as it was an amazing night we’ll forgive them. In fact they were amazing hosts and we were treated like royalty by them and their friends the whole time we were there.
The main thing I have to report is that on the first full day we were there I proposed to Mel on a rowing boat on ‘The Lake’ in Central Park and, perhaps overcome by the city fumes, she foolishly said yes. Despite nearly crashing into numerous other boaters, we made it safely back to the shore. As most people have said, after 11 years, it was about time!
I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City
I’ve not got around to writing this until now because 1. I wanted to install iMovie 09 before I edited the video to try and stabilise some of the shakier shots, and 2. it really is difficult to put into words how much I loved the place. Even if you discount the religious aspect of the song, I think Harry Nilsson put it best with ‘I Guess The Lord Must Be in New York City’ and that’s why I’ve used it in my wee video diary. As you’ll see, the vid is very much a personal account but hopefully there’s enough general footage of NYC there for people who aren’t in the least interested in my personal life to get something out of it. If you are interested in my more personal photos of the trip, I’ll be putting them up on Facebook shortly.
The Strand Bookstore and other sights
We tried to take the advice of the people who’d commented here and on Facebook, and we managed to do most things we wanted to do, but there’s so much left to do that I’m desperate to get back. The first picture above is of the wonderful Strand bookstore, thanks for the tip Tart! I think both of us could have spent hours and many many dollars in there. We were too far away to grab breakfast at the Tick Tock diner as suggested by Nick, and we just didn’t have time for Ellis Island unfortunately but we did go on the Staten Island Ferry and had a wonderful walk over the bridge to Brooklyn, where we ate lunch, drank Brooklyn Lager and walked along the promenade with it’s awesome views of Manhattan. Great place for wedding photos:
The things we missed out on are a great reason to go back as soon as possible! Anyway, Lis and Andy were right – we were soooo not disappointed. The city is so exciting, so fast-moving, with something happening on every corner. The people are friendly, helpful and very welcoming, plus there are so many characters, interesting people to look at and listen to snippets of their conversations, and so many beautiful women! (I know, I know, I shouldn’t be looking). Frankly if I could get a visa and afford the rents, I’d move there right away.
The Sidewalk Open Mic
I could go on and on about everything we did, but I will spare you. Lastly though I must speak of my open mic experience on our final night. It followed the night we got absolutely hammered (witness the singing on the video if you want to hear just how drunk we were). Neither of us felt our best and in the end Mel wasn’t able to make it along to the Sidewalk, home of antifolk, in the East Village, so I grabbed a cab there myself. I hadn’t managed to meet up with Mr Antifolk Chameleon due to some type of text message failure, so I was incredibly nervous – here I was in New York, on my own, with the hangover from hell, ready to take to the stage.
When I get nervous I clam up and become even more socially awkward than normal (if that’s possible) and so I sat in the corner quietly sipping my water. When the time came to queue I was delighted to be picked ninth, especially as the queue was out the door and the signing up process took over three-quarters of an hour! So after some amazing acts it was my turn. I had managed to borrow a guitar off a very generous lady who had announced on stage that she was moving from New York to Toronto – (my nerves prevented me from remembering her name even though she told me it twice) and just before I went onstage, the lovely Nan from Schwervon appeared, who I had chatted to when the band stopped in Edinburgh a couple of months ago as part of their UK tour promoting their excellent new album Low Blow. She was also playing the open mic that night (she rocked!) and was very supportive. It was great to have someone who I knew there gunning for me, and it helped my confidence a lot as I fumbled with the guitar strap etc.
So I sang I Ain’t Your Mailman, and Disassemble Me, the two songs I did at the Song, By Toad Christmas Party. I really threw myself into it and when the whole room started clapping along to Mailman I knew I had the crowd behind me. I think it went pretty well, and I had fulfilled one of my ambitions, to play at the Sidewalk in NYC.
We spent the next day checking out Greenwich Village and a few of Bob Dylan’s old haunts and I felt I’d got a great taste of the city and it’s cultural history. Before I left I put It’s Blitz by Yeah Yeah Yeahs on my iPhone really load and wandered about near where we were staying around Fifth Avenue (and popped into the 24 hour Apple Store and a cool toy shop with lego Darth Vaders and Chewbaccas). Sad to be leaving and still in awe, Karen O’s expansive melancholy hit me hard as the towering buildings spun round me, and I bid NYC a reluctant farewell.
Note on video: This was my first time using iMovie 09, so I used pretty much every effect there was going. The stabilisation feature was really handy, though some of what I filmed on my wee digital camera was too shaky to be fixed. Hope you enjoy – you might also want to check out my footage from Peaches at the Webster Hall.